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Imagine running through the woods. You jump over logs, duck under low branches, and then pick up speed when the trees open up into a green field. Ahead of you runs your Beagle. Nose to the ground, tail held high. He is tracking a rabbit, and he is hot on its scent. You lose sight of him in the tall grass, and for a moment you are unsure of where he has gone--until you hear the unmistakable sound of a howl. Your Beagle has found the rabbit and he is excitedly telling everyone within earshot.
Your Beagle puppy was born with the ability to howl. Many Beagles howl when they are excited. Your Beagle might be a frequent howler, or a bit more conservative with his voice. Either way howling can be fun to put on cue as a trick.
In addition to being a fun trick, howling can also be useful.. If you need to teach your dog an alert signal that can be heard from far away, howling would be a great signal to teach. Perhaps your Beagle is a hunting dog and does not alert with a howl on his own. By teaching him how to howl on command, you can train him to howl when he finds what he is tracking. Perhaps you are doing Search and Rescue work and your dog is learning how to track. Howling when he locates a missing person can help you get to him quickly.
How long this will take to train will depend a lot on how often your dog howls in general. If your dog is very vocal and howls a lot on his own, then the training will probably go faster. If your dog is very quiet and you have to work hard to even get him to make noise, then expect the training to take longer. In general, expect this command to take between four and eight weeks to train.
If your dog is very quiet and rarely howls at anything without prompting, then do not choose the 'Capture' method. Your dog will learn much faster using either the 'Siren' method or the 'Music' method. However, if your dog tends to howl frequently, then the 'Capture' method might be the easiest method for you to use. If you do use the 'Capture' method then do be aware that that method can increase general howling in your puppy. This is because with that method you will be rewarding your puppy for howling at things that he encounters in his everyday life.
If your puppy is not a frequent howler, then you may have to try many different types of sounds before you find one that your puppy will howl in response to. In general, noises that are high pitched, irritating, off key, and a bit loud are the most likely to get a response out of him. If music and sirens fail to elicit a response from him, then try a recording of another dog's howling. If he responds to that, then use that sound in place of the music or siren noise in your chosen method, and then simply follow the instructions for one of those methods using a dog howl recording instead.
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats. If you are using the 'Capture' method then you will also need a small Ziploc bag or treat pouch to place the treats into. If you are using the 'Siren' or 'Music' method, you will also need a portable electronic device to play the sounds on. A smartphone or a tablet with an internet connection will work for this. For the 'Siren' method, you will also need a recording of a siren that your dog will howl in response to and for the 'Music' method you will need a recording of music or singing that your dog will howl in response to. Such recordings can be found on online if you don't already have them in your collection. For all of the methods, you will need to sound excited and enthusiastic when you give the "Howl" command, and you will need good timing, in order to praise and reward your puppy while he is howling.
The Capture Method
To begin, place lots of small, tasty treats into a small Ziploc bag, and place the bag into your pocket. If you have a treat pouch, then you can also place the treats into a treat pouch and cover the pouch with your shirt, so that it is out of sight.
Pay attention to your puppy throughout the day, and listen for any howling.
When you see or hear your puppy begin to howl, go over to him and tell him "Howl!", then praise him and give him a treat.
Repeat telling your puppy to 'howl' and rewarding him whenever he howls. Do this until you have caught him howling at least thirty times. How long this takes will depend on how often your puppy howls at things.
After you have caught your puppy howling at least thirty times and rewarded him each time, then test whether or not your puppy understands the command. To test him, get his attention and tell him "Howl!". If he howls, then praise him and give him a treat.
If your puppy does not howl when you tell him to, then go back to rewarding him when he offers it on his own. After you have told him "Howl" and rewarded him at least ten more times, then test him again. Retest him after every ten repetitions, until he will finally howl when you tell him to.
When your beagle will howl when you tell him to, then practice until he will do it consistently.
The Siren Method
To begin, find a video or a sound clip of a loud siren, such as a fire truck siren. Play the siren noise on your portable electronic device, such as a smartphone or tablet, behind your back for your puppy. This is to test whether or not he will howl in response to that video or sound clip. If he does howl, then move onto the next step using that siren recording. If he does not howl, then test other videos or sound clips until you find one that he will howl in response to.
Tell your puppy "Howl" in an excited voice, then play the siren recording on your electronic device from behind your back, where your dog cannot see it.
While you are playing the siren noise, when your puppy begins to howl, praise him and give him a treat.
Repeat telling your puppy to "Howl", then playing the siren recording, then praising and rewarding your puppy when he howls. Do this at least thirty times throughout the week.
After you have practiced 'howl' at least thirty times, then test whether or not your puppy understands the command. To test this, play the recording for him and reward him for howling. After you have rewarded him and he is quiet again, tell him to 'howl' and wait seven seconds. If he does it, then reward him with five treats, giving one treat at a time. Test this up to five times in a row.
If your puppy will not howl when told to during any of the tests, then practice with the siren for longer. Practice with the siren at least fifteen more times before testing him again. Repeat this process until he will howl when you test him.
Practice for longer
When your puppy will howl when told to, then practice telling him to howl after he has finished howling in response to the recording. Do this at least thirty times.
Call your puppy
After thirty repetitions, call your puppy over to you and tell him to howl without preparing him with the recording. Wait seven seconds to see if he will do it, and if he does not then repeat the command and waiting up to five times. If he howls during any of the five repetitions, praise him and reward him.
If your puppy does not howl, then practice for longer. Play the siren recording beforehand to trigger his howling, then tell him to "howl" again when he is quiet. Do this at least fifteen more times, and then retest him without the recording again. Repeat testing him after every fifteen repetitions, until he will howl without playing the recording beforehand.
Practice makes perfect
When your puppy will howl when you simply command him to 'howl', then practice the command with him, until he can do it consistently. When he can do it consistently, he has officially learned the trick!
The Music Method
To begin, on a portable electronic device, such as a smartphone or tablet, find a recording of high pitched music that your puppy will howl in response to. Good options to try are recordings of people loudly singing high pitched Christmas music off key, people singing high pitched pop culture songs off key, high pitched piano music, and music involving trumpets or flutes.
Hide your device
When you find music that your puppy will howl in response to, then hide your portable electronic device behind your back, with the music ready to play on it, where your puppy cannot see it.
Tell your puppy to "Howl", and play the music on your device. When your puppy starts to howl then praise him enthusiastically, and give him a treat. Stop the music while you are giving him the treat.
Practice telling your puppy to howl, then playing the music, and then rewarding him for it. Do this at least thirty times. After thirty repetitions, command your puppy to howl again, after rewarding him for howling in response to the music just seconds before. When you tell him this time, do not play the music after you tell him. If he howls without the music, then praise him and give him a treat.
If your puppy does not howl on command, then practice with the music every time for longer. After at least fifteen repetitions, try to get him to repeat his howling without the music again. Repeat this process until he will howl without music.
When your puppy will howl again, then practice telling him "Howl" again, without music, at least thirty times.
Remove all music
After thirty repetitions, then tell your puppy to howl without playing any music during the previous hour. If he does it, then praise him and reward him with a treat. Then practice it until he can do it consistently.
Practice for longer
If your puppy does not do it, then go back to telling him to "Howl" again without music after he has stopped howling in response to the music the previous time. Do this at least fifteen more times before trying without any music during the hour beforehand again. Repeat this process, until your puppy will howl without any music beforehand when you tell him to. When your puppy consistently no longer needs any music, then he has learned to howl on command. Great job!
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 02/26/2018, edited: 01/08/2021